Chelsea have completed the signing of 25 year-old Brazilian star Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala, beating Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to his signature. Despite ongoing interest from Liverpool, a move to Tottenham seemed inevitable after rumors confirmed Willian was having a medical, but it was Chelsea who secured the Brazilian’s services, coming out of nowhere to snatch him from under the nose of Spurs.
Willian moved from financially struggling Anzhi – a surprise considering they are from Russia, a multi-billionaire invested country – to Chelsea on a five-year deal for a massive fee of £32m. Chelsea acted quickly and forked out the fee before the medical at Tottenham ever occurred, with Willian later admitting the the Blues had always been his first choice. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made a personal call to Anzhi and fellow Russian Suleyman Kerimov to get Willian, and had to smooth over the deal and get Kerimov to sell Willian to the London-based club. Albeit, Chelsea’s offer was higher than that of Tottenham Hotspur’s, which was the reason why the Blues managed to sign him.
Willian spent his youth career at Corinthians and later went on to play for the first team. In his one season playing first team football in Brazil’s top tier, the Brasileirão, Willian made a total of 16 appearances for Corinthians and scored two goals at the young age of only 18. After the first season of his senior career, the Brazilian completed the move to Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in 2007. Willian managed to bag 140 appearances for the Ukrainians, scoring a total of 20 goals. Shakhtar Donetsk were crowned Ukrainian Champions four times during his five-and-a-half year spell at the club, with Willian being a major factor in their domestic success.
In January of 2013, Willian was signed by Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, where he went on to make only 13 appearances and score one goal for the club yet continuing to attract interest from big clubs. Willian made three appearances in the Russian Premier League in the beginning of the 2013/14 season prior to his move to Chelsea, failing to score but gathering three assists, showing that he is a creative player. Aside from that, his brief spell at Anzhi was a step back for the midfielder, and as such was focused on a move to the Premier League this summer.
Willian hasn’t yet managed to break into the Brazilian first team, but he is still only 25 years-old, which shows he has time. He has only made two appearances for Brazilian national team but hasn’t got regular performances in the team. Maybe this is because of the league he has been playing in; the Premier League will test him and let him develop more as a person and as a player. Maybe he can develop enough and improve enough to become the quality Brazil need to win the World Cup and other major national silverware in the future. Willian was certainly happy with his move to Chelsea, and insisted that it had always been his dream move:
“I’m very happy to be here, it’s been a dream of mine to come and play here. Chelsea was always my first choice. Chelsea are one of the best clubs in the world, and now I’m going to play for one of the best managers in the world, so I’m very happy and looking forward to it. When the offer came, I never gave a thought to anybody else, I said to myself that I would run here, and I’m happy to be here now.”
Only time will tell if Willian will get his first team place at Chelsea with the high quality of attacking midfielders in Mata, Oscar, Schurrle, and Hazard, but Mata is out of favor under Mourinho, so Willian could get his first team chances. Willian could become a world beater if he is developed properly, and many fans are excited to see him play against the best teams in Britain. Eden Hazard suffered an Achilles injury on international duty for Belgium, and is likely to be ruled out for some of Chelsea’s future matches. Mourinho doesn’t exactly have lack of depth in the department Hazard comes from, but Eden will be a massive miss to the team.
Willian has yet to make his debut for the Blues, but when Chelsea play Everton in their next Premier League game on 14 September, Jose could opt for the Brazilian to start his first game for the Blues. Willian’s selection could only raise more speculation about Juan Mata’s future, but he seems to be a good replacement for Hazard. There is no doubt Willian will be excellent for Chelsea, but the only question is when will he play his first game for Chelsea? Jose could opt for the Brazilian or play Spaniard Mata instead; only time will tell.
Written by Luke Taylor